I love the Olympics. This year’s competitions are being held in beautiful British Colombia, Canada. A number of years ago I went skiing at Whistler with my parents and it was breathtaking. One of the many things I enjoy about the Olympics are the stories of the journeys the athletes took to get there. I always wanted to be an Olympian but alas it wasn’t in the cards. But I did take an eventful journey to get to Whistler.

Back in the late 90s I was working for a hockey team in Cleveland. The working hours were endless with few days off. By chance, the boys were on the road for a week so I packed my bags and made arrangements to meet my parents in Minnesota where we would travel on together to Vancouver. That was the plan at least.

After working three weeks without a day off, I found myself exhausted. So exhausted that on Saturday morning I woke up with that feeling—you know the one—that something wasn’t right. I knew I had slept too long. I looked up and saw a plane overhead, glanced at the clock and knew that was my plane. Up there. Without me. 

Off to the airport I ran. I managed to rearrange my schedule with the totally incompetent people of Northwest airlines so that I would wait about an hour, catch a flight to Detroit, change to a flight to Minnesota, wait there for six hours, and then catch a flight to Vancouver. A few minutes later, that flight got cancelled. So back to the starting block. There was a direct flight to Minnesota taking off in a couple of hours with a three hour layover and on to Vancouver. If you’re like me, you’re wondering why the airline guy didn’t just give me that option first.

The first flight was delayed but I finally made it to Minnesota. Then had a huge delay in Minnesota. Hours late. By now I’m on my fifth call to my parent’s answering machine (no cell phones back then). This time I wasn’t crying, but I was running late and missed connecting with them.

Just when it looked like I was going to make it, the plane landed in Vancouver at about five minutes to 10 p.m. local time or 1 a.m. Cleveland time. (I started the day at 7 a.m. so I was ready to end this nightmare.) The last leg of the trip was a two-hour bus ride up to Whistler. My parents left me a voucher—but the last bus was leaving at 10 p.m. So I ran over to the customs guys and begged them to let me go ask the bus people to wait a few minutes for me. No go. (And this was pre-9/11.) Needless to say I missed the bus so I made a reservation at a hotel in Vancouver.

The next morning I got into the shuttle (or van) to go back to the airport. I was the only passenger and as luck would have it, my driver was a conspiracy theorist. The entire, terrifying drive to the airport was filled with his theories about government take-overs. At one point he pointed to the lovely landscape and screamed something about “the man.”

It was all worth it. The bus ride up to Whistler was gorgeous and so was the resort. During the next couple of weeks I’ll be rooting those Olympians on as they hurl themselves down and around those mountains. Go USA, Go USA!

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